Art as a Way of Healing

What makes travel interesting is the people I meet along the way, the locals who bring to life the area I am traveling through.

Friday I finally got on my bike and went for a ride


On the Trail to Westport

. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. Camp had been set up. I decided to ride to the small fishing town of Westport, check it out and return to the camp later in the day. The best part of this ride was finding the path that followed the Pacific coast into town.

After settling over a cup of tea and reading I started the return ride. It is always nice to have the wind at my back on the way home.

On my way into town I noticed an interesting vehicle, so to speak, on the right side of the road. I promised myself, when I returned I would stop there and take a few photos. On the return trip I did just that, stopped to take a photo or two.


Christopher & his Traveling Studio

Just as I pulled off the road, a man came out to say hello. Meet Christopher Bollen. He is an artist. He has been practicing art since he was young. He started as a pen and ink artist and then progressed his way to watercolors. I could stop here and you would know him as an artist, yet there was much more to this man.

When he first came out and spoke with me, he recited a poem.

He has been an artist most of his life. After returning from Vietnam, art helped him conquer PTSD. When he decided to attempt to become a working artist, he chose a neighborhood Seattle and knocked on doors offering to depict homes in framed drawings for $100 each. He had seven commissions the first week.

Christopher told me he took an art class at a community college. He went to one class and never went back and still passed the course.

His traveling art studio was designed and built by him. His home was simple and plain but inviting and well laid out. He raised two children as a single parent. His son now runs his own business on the same property, Barrett’s Gym. He is a personal trainer. He and his father built the gym. It is private and not open to the public.

At one point in his prolific career he owned nine galleries. He was well known in the Seattle area for his pen and ink drawings of local scenes. He opened up his traveling art studio and would travel and paint. Everyone was welcome into his studio.


Now he paints for himself, focusing on miniature watercolors. None are for sale. His goal is to paint a thousand paintings for his children’s legacy. He knows what his paintings are worth. What a creative idea.

When I finally made it into his studio I was taken. His art is beautiful and varied. He worked exclusively for eight years in pen and ink before branching out into watercolor art.



When I told him I was a watercolor artist who has not painted since Jim died, he told me this is the time I need to paint, not for others but for myself. Painting is lonely and grief is a great time to start. He asked me if I felt guilty for Jim’s death. When I said emphatically, no, his response was “good”. He told me to pick up a brush and start. Record my history.

He decided that Cat and I are on a pilgrimage, each one different yet one with a common goal. It is not always an easy one, yet at the end of the day we need to lay down our differences and recognized we are in this together.

I stopped by this morning to thank him for his time and to give him one of my cards.  I left with two watercolor prints.

A most amazing man, indeed. I am glad I stopped. I am glad I stayed. I am glad to have met him and maybe not today but soon, I will pick up a brush and begin.



When Life Gives You Lemons…

My Campsite north of Westport, CA

My Campsite north of Westport, CA

For the past few weeks I have been traveling the west coast in my Roadtrek. I have literally been traveling the coast following route 1 and 101 north from Los Angeles. I have been enjoying the cool air while so many were suffering through a heat wave.

When I arrived in Crescent City, California a good friend, Cat and her two dogs, joined me for four days. It was fun to have company and see a part of the United States I have never seen before.

janet & Cat getting ready to ride.

janet & Cat getting ready to ride.


Cat and I are getting ready to embark on a journey together. She and her two dogs are bicycling the Pacific Coast Route. Me, Elsie and the Roadtrek are going to be her support team, otherwise known as the “sag wagon”. We will start in Vancouver, BC and finish at the Mexican border. It is a long ride and I have no doubt it will be fun.

We were planning to leave this week past. There has been a delay.

I have not learned yet, how important it is, to stop driving before one gets too tired. On Monday, I was running errands, after spending a lazy day on the beach, walking and photographing.  At the end of the day I did one errand too many. I pulled into the Home Depot Parking lot, parked my rig, leaned over to pick up my wallet, and the next thing I knew I was rolling over a curb and a rock. My Roadtrek was obviously not in park. While backing off I pulled my whole front bumper off.

There are many nice things about a small town, one of them is the people. After calling my roadside assistance with Coach-Net a local body repair man, Mike came to my rescue. With the help of a couple other RV’ers and Mike the bumper was temporarily put into place. When I asked Mike how much I owed him, he just waved me off. I gave him a hug instead of money. His kindness was appreciated.


Bumper Bandaids


Bumper Bandaids

The next day I made my way, via a beautiful drive through the redwoods and a few stops to zip tie loose areas of my bumper, to Medford Oregon. Medford is close to Ashland where Cat and I are meeting up to start the journey north. Thanks to the Roadtrek Facebook page, when I whined about my dilemma, I soon had two offers of places to stay in Medford while my front end is secured back into place.

I have been staying with Mary. I first met her last winter in Anza Borrego State Park. A little over a month later she and I and two other women met up in the desert again. This second meeting is when I fell and broke my ankle, while hiking. Sigh. We did form a good start to a friendship, one I hope endures.

Mary has been a perfect hostess and friend. She has helped divert me from obsessing over my stupidity and has been introducing me to Oregon. The first day we toured Lithia Park (designed by John McLaren who designed Golden Gate Park in San Francisco)  in the town of Ashland, met up with Cat for lunch and went wine tasting in the afternoon. It was relaxing and fun.

Sometime that afternoon I began to realize that I could just chastise myself over and over again or I could let it go and enjoy my side trip to Medford and Ashland.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Yesterday Mary and I spent the day hiking and touring at Crater Lake National Park. Here is a one word description of this park “Beautiful”. I don’t believe that a bad photo could be taken of this place. It was amazingly beautiful. The lake within the crater is the most beautiful color of blue. It is said that the water is so pure that you could dip your cup and drink right from the lake. The water comes completely from snow melt and rain. What keeps it so pure is that there is only one place on the lake where you can actually get to the shore and even that is restricted use. It was an amazing day and I am glad that I finally was able to see this spectacular place. it was good to get some hiking in, something I have not done much of lately.

Janet & Mary hike to a waterfall

Janet & Mary hike to a waterfall

Today, Friday my Roadtrek made it’s way to the shop. I am hoping that it may be ready to go my next Wednesday.

Recreational Marijuana Shop

Recreational Marijuana Shop

I realize that I have several choices on how I choose to act in any given situation. I was not hurt, my RT was a little hurt, Elsie was OK and this is a very temporary set back on a grand summer and fall adventure with a good friend. The lesson here is, there are many times I can make lemonade when I am given temporary lemons. Very few episodes or events are so dire that I cannot, at least attempt, to turn them around and discover something positive about the situation at the time. The past four days have been fun. I have been exploring a new area of the country and having fun with friends. I have visited my first recreational marijuana store (it’s legal here) and I was able to visit Crater Lake National Park which has long been on my list of must sees. Deepening the connection with Mary has certainly been worth while. I have been having fun.

Hopefully I won’t have to make too much lemonade on this trip. It is good to know that I can if I need to. I am looking forward to what fun thing I will do tomorrow. Today I am thankful for lemons and lemonade, good friends and beautiful expansive, preserved wilderness that I am privileged to explore.

Click below for Photos of the trip, so far.




Afternoon Bath

Afternoon Bath




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Sereimagesndipity – the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident. I have been contemplating this word and it’s meaning for the past couple of months. 

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In late June of this year my friend, Nancy and I traveled to northern California to camp in my class B RV for a week. I don’t remember what brought this word into play on this trip, yet it was a discussion that came up in conversation several time over that week. I like the sound of this word. There is a bit of a mystery in it and it makes me think of magic in my everyday life.

On the drive out to the coast we drove through the town of Booneville and there was an International Music Festival in process. Nancy made the comment “this is serendipity”.  We debated whether to stop and because of the lateness of the hour we decided to keep driving. This makes me realize that I don’t have to act on a moment in time and maybe it is more important to acknowledge it and know that I can act upon it if I want to.SNWMF_MainHeaderLayers3

The other 2 moments that occurred on this holiday had to do with people.

We spent a day with the Nature Conservancy hiking on a private ranch. By word of mouth we discovered that one of the couples that hiked with us own the Westport Hotel and Old Ablaone Bar, in the very small town of Westport, CA. They have stated a tradition of having Saturday afternoon high tea. Serendipity happened and we went for tea.  There were five of  us who met at the pub and had a delightful tea and afternoon conversing with very interesting folks. And the pub and hotel were just charming. So if you ever find yourself north of Mendocino on a Saturday afternoon. Stop for tea at the Old Abalone Bar. I guarantee you will enjoy it.


Tea with Friends

Tea at the Old Abalone Pub

Tea at the Old Abalone Pub



Westport Hotel

The last night we were on the northern coast we stayed at Gualala Point Regional Park. As we drove into the campground I looked off to my right and thought that the person setting up their camp looked familiar. A short time later, Nancy I met up with Mary and John. Mary worked with Jim and I have know her for many years. It was so good to see them. John was abalone diving. I had my first guests for dinner in my cute little RT. Nancy I made salad and soup and Mary and John brought the abalone and wine. it was such a delightful evening. For me it was one of the highlights of the trip.


Hiking back into Gualala Point regional park.

Hiking back into Gualala Point regional park.


Serendipity adds just that little something extra to a special moment in time. Would I have still said that I had a great trip if the two events noted above had not occurred? Certainly. Did these two events add to the magic of the trip? Certainly.

I believe that serendipitous moments happen almost every day of our lives, whether we are in our own backyard or on holiday. I need to take the time to notice them and acknowledge them. Last weekend Nancy and I put the kayaks in the water for the first time since Jim’s death. Although we managed fine, with the help of a step ladder, to get the kayaks on the roof when we arrived at our put-in spot, a man just showed up to help us get them off the roof. Serendipitous? I think so, and it was a lovely encounter with another human being, who had a very good handshake.

I am now paying a bit more attention to those moments when they arise. I look forward to them and find my life is just a wee bit better because of them. I think I would like to start a serendipity movement, asking people to wake up and notice those moments that make our lives a bit more exciting and valuable.

Our kayaks, not on the bay but I wanted to share a photo of them with you.

Our kayaks, not on the bay but I wanted to share a photo of them with you. Jim & I made them.

What are some of your serendipitous moments? I would love to hear about them.

Delighting in the day.